Anglers Urged to Return Fish Tags in Timely Manner

North coast steelhead and salmon anglers are reminded to return fish tags to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in a timely manner. Tag return information is a vital tool for biologists as they calculate harvest and estimate population size of Chinook, coho and steelhead runs.

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“We’ve had people send us huge envelopes with several years’ worth of tags, but the information is only useful in the same season the fish are caught, ” said Mary Claire Kier, CDFW Trinity River Project Environmental Scientist. “We need anglers to send in their tags right away, before they get lost or forgotten in tackle boxes or pockets of fishing vests.”

Please return all Trinity River fish tags, by mail or in person, to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
5341 Ericson Way
Arcata, CA  95521

A tag return form can be found online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Fishing/Monitoring/FTag/.  Anglers can also simply send the tags wrapped in or taped to a piece of paper with their name, address, date and location that the fish was caught or the tag was found. Please specify if the fish was caught live or found dead, or if the tag was found loose. If the tag was found on a caught fish, please note whether the fish was kept or released.

If the tag is being returned by mail, please cut the knot off of the tag as the knot can cause the envelope to catch in the postal sorting equipment.

Media Contacts:
Mary Claire Kier, CDFW Trinity River Project, (707) 822-5876  
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

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Warm Springs Hatchery Begins Spawning Operation for Russian River Steelhead

Ninety-six Russian River steelhead were spawned Feb. 20 at Warm Springs Hatchery, marking a strong but late start for the hatchery’s annual steelhead spawning operation.

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The Russian River and its tributaries comprise one of the most significant steelhead populations in the Central Coast area of California. The Russian River watershed also provides important habitat for endangered Coho and Chinook salmon. Although steelhead normally begin entering the river with the first heavy rains in the fall and can be found throughout the river and its tributaries through April, this year little rain fell from November through the first week in February, creating extremely low river conditions and few opportunities for steelhead to move into and up the river system.

Low water conditions in January also allowed the naturally occurring sandbar to form at the mouth of the river, blocking the migration of steelhead.

“Once the first rains hit in February, the sandbar blocking the mouth of the river washed out, allowing the steelhead to move in from the ocean into the river system,” said Brett Wilson, Senior Hatchery Supervisor for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). “Based on what we are seeing right now, we should be able to meet our goal of taking enough eggs to rear a half million young steelhead for release into the Russian River.”

Emergency regulations that went into effect Feb. 19 closed most of the Russian River to fishing, adding extra protection for migrating steelhead and salmon.

March is an excellent time to visit the hatchery and view the steelhead moving through the concrete fish ladder into the restored stream habitat leading to the hatchery. A visitor viewing area also provides excellent photographic opportunity.

“The new restoration stream habitat just outside the hatchery intake gives visitors a chance to see steelhead up close and in native type of habitat,” Wilson said.

Warm Springs Hatchery is the end of a lengthy migration for the hatchery produced steelhead. From the Pacific Ocean, they enter the Russian River at Jenner and travel 40 miles upriver to Dry Creek near Healdsburg before following the stream 14 more miles west to the hatchery. Steelhead are also spawned at Coyote Valley Fish Facility on the East Fork of the Russian below Lake Mendocino.

The steelhead are generally held captive one week before the eggs are artificially taken. Spawning is open to the public and occurs throughout the entire season on most Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. The steelhead eggs spawned at the Hatchery and the Coyote Valley Fish Facility are incubated, hatched and reared at the hatchery for one year before they are released back into the Russian River to begin their migration to the sea.

Warm Springs Hatchery is located just below Warm Springs Dam on Lake Sonoma, approximately 14 miles above the confluence of Dry Creek with the Russian River at an elevation of 322 feet. The hatchery began operation in 1980 and is designed to produce a maximum of 161,300 pounds of salmonid fish annually. Although the hatchery is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), it is operated by CDFW. CDFW also operates the Coyote Valley Fish Facility for trapping and spawning adult steelhead and imprinting steelhead destined for release in the Russian River. The Coyote Valley Fish Facility is located upstream on the east branch of the Russian River near the town of Ukiah.

Warm Springs Hatchery is a mitigation hatchery that produces steelhead to enhance the river’s natural steelhead population required due to the loss of natural spawning and rearing habitat associated with the construction of the Warm Springs and Coyote Valley dams. The mitigating agency is the USACE. The Warm Springs Hatchery is also home to the Coho Salmon Broodstock Program, which produces coho for release to 21 tributaries of the Russian River as part of a multi-agency recovery effort for this endangered species.

Media Contact:
Brett Wilson, Senior Hatchery Supervisor, (707) 433-6325
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

Steelhead swimming upstream to Warm Springs Hatchery

Steelhead swimming upstream to Warm Springs Hatchery

Wildlife Conservation Board funds environmental improvement and acquisition projects

lush, green riparian habitat on a far northern California creek

Strawberry Creek in Humboldt County. WCB photo

dry-looking pebble plain habitat with green forest in background

Sawmill Pebble Plain in San Bernardino County. WCB photo

large northern California cree with both grassy and rocky shoreline surrounded by trees and brush

Cow Creek Conservation Area near Redding. WCB photo

Marshy wetland with yellow wildflowers near Richmond

Wetland habitat in Breuner Marsh, at Point Pinole Regional Shoreline. WCB photo

Dry, rolling hill with few trees behind flat land with mostly dry grass.

Blue Oak Ranch Reserve in Santa Clara County. WCB photo

Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, (916) 445-0137
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

At its Feb. 20 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $14 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 16 funded projects will provide benefits to fish and wildlife – including some endangered species – while others will provide the public with access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, land owners and the local community. The funds for all these projects come from bond initiatives approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources. Some of the funded projects include:

  • A $253,000 grant to the Pacific Coast Fish, Wildlife and Wetlands Association for a cooperative project with Redwood National Park and the Fisheries Restoration Grant Program to restore approximately 1,600 linear feet of riparian habitat for Coho salmon and steelhead trout on Strawberry Creek, approximately 1.5 miles west of Orick in Humboldt County.
  • A $650,000 grant to the Shasta Land Trust (SLT) to acquire a conservation easement over approximately 600 acres of land to protect rangeland, riparian, floodplain and riverine habitat and provide habitat connectivity with the adjoining protected lands referred to as the Cow Creek Conservation Area, north of State Highway 44, about 10 miles east of the City of Redding in Shasta County.
  • A $1 million grant to the East Bay Regional Park District for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy and others to restore approximately 164 acres of wetland habitat in Breuner Marsh, at Point Pinole Regional Shoreline, five miles north of the city of Richmond in Contra Costa County.
  • A $4.2 million grant to the Regents of the University of California to construct new staff housing and storage facilities, enhance a campground, improve existing structures for visiting researchers and upgrade roads and other infrastructure at the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve, approximately 9 miles east of the City of San Jose in Santa Clara County.
  • A $2 million grant to the San Bernardino Mountains Land Trust to acquire approximately  166 acres of very rare and endangered pebble plain habitat that supports a wide variety of endemic plant species, just south of Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino Mountains, in San Bernardino County.

For more information about the WCB please visit www.wcb.ca.gov.

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